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Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2001

Abstract

It may seem like the topic of service management has been exhausted. Legions of scholars and practitioners have applied queuing theory to bank lines, measured response times to the millisecond, and created cults around "delighting the customer." But practitioners haven''t carefully considered the underlying psychology of service encounters--the feelings that customers experience during these encounters, feelings often so subtle they probably couldn''t be put into words. Fortunately, behavioral science offers new insights into better service management. In this article, the authors translate findings from behavioral-science research into five operating principles: 1) finish strong; 2) get the bad experiences out of the way early; 3) segment the pleasure, combine the pain; 4) build commitment through choice; and 5) give people rituals and stick to them. Ultimately, only one thing really matters in a service encounter--the customer''s perception of what occurred. This article will help you engineer your service encounters to enhance your customers'' experiences during the process as well as their recollections of the process after it is completed.

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Abstract

It may seem like the topic of service management has been exhausted. Legions of scholars and practitioners have applied queuing theory to bank lines, measured response times to the millisecond, and created cults around "delighting the customer." But practitioners haven''t carefully considered the underlying psychology of service encounters--the feelings that customers experience during these encounters, feelings often so subtle they probably couldn''t be put into words. Fortunately, behavioral science offers new insights into better service management. In this article, the authors translate findings from behavioral-science research into five operating principles: 1) finish strong; 2) get the bad experiences out of the way early; 3) segment the pleasure, combine the pain; 4) build commitment through choice; and 5) give people rituals and stick to them. Ultimately, only one thing really matters in a service encounter--the customer''s perception of what occurred. This article will help you engineer your service encounters to enhance your customers'' experiences during the process as well as their recollections of the process after it is completed.

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